BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

ANN H. GABHART TALKS ABOUT NEW BOOK & 5 Book GIVEAWAY



ABOUT AUTHOR: Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart has walked the same paths her character might have walked in generations past. Her thorough research provides a colorful backdrop for her Shaker novels. Ann is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and Angel Sister. The Gifted is the fifth book set in her Shaker village of Harmony Hill.

Ann lives on a farm with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter (user name annhgabhart) or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.  




Below is a great review you received about the Rosey Corner stories. I have TWO Questions for you after the quote.

"Masterfully storytelling blends with a written love story about sisters everywhere, resulting in a novel tailor made for book clubs that can be treasured and shared with all who appreciate the beauty of love and family and the value of struggle." 



When this reviewer says the novels are tailor made for book clubs what do you think she means by that? (Do you have special themes in the story book clubs can schedule their meeting by? Do you have discussion questions that are engaging? Do you have recipes in your book that they can use for book club? Can you Please give us a peek on how book clubs can use your books?)

I did appreciate the reviewer mentioning book clubs since I’m such a fan of book clubs myself. I think it is such fun when people get together to talk books. While I’m not sure about a special theme to schedule a meeting around, I feel the reviewer was thinking about how the story follows the different sisters through times of joy and crisis. Those scenes could make for good discussions about how family celebrates with us and also helps us overcome hardships and problems. Sisters are especially good to have around when things aren't going well. First your sister has known you all your life if she’s older and all her life if she’s younger. That means she’s most likely seen you at your best and at your worst, but still loves you. Second, you can count on your sister to tell you the truth, but you can also cry on her shoulder. Last of all, women are very good at finding “sisters” whether they have any sisters born to them or not. That is another theme in my Rosey Corner books–how we can expand our family circles beyond those born into it.

I hope my discussion questions are engaging, but I suppose that’s for book club members to determine. Discussion questions are available on my website on the Rosey Corner link for Love Comes Home.  Also, quite a few book clubs have read Angel Sister, the first Rosey Corner book that had several avenues of discussion with Victor’s drinking problem, the fathers’ not approving of Victor and Nadine’s marriage, Kate’s determination to take care of Lorena, and Lorena being a deserted child. The fact that the story was set during the Great Depression opened the door to some good discussions about that era.

Some of those same themes are in Love Comes Home with Jay and Mike both being haunted by their memories of the war and Lorena wanting to know more about her birth family. Kate also suffers a hard time that many other women have faced. Readers can share Victoria’s difficulty in turning loose of sorrow and discuss how a person can handle loss and find ways to move on with life. Then, Fern might be a character to get book club members talking about odd characters they've known and perhaps misunderstood. Fern’s character shows how everybody in our lives touches us in some ways. Last of all, Aunt Hattie is a fount of spiritual wisdom. She’d love knowing her character got people talking about prayer and walking hand in hand with the Lord through whatever life brings.

Nora: That's one of the things I enjoy about your books. Your talk of family and how you naturally weave in the spiritual aspects!

There is a recipe in the back of the book for the brown sugar pie that Jay loved so much. A book club might have fun making and eating Jay’s pie. One of the reviewers of Love Comes Home, recently did just that. Made the pie and included it in her review. I once went to a book club meeting that had read one of my Shaker books. The hostess of the club had made all the refreshments from Shaker recipes, including the Shakers’ famous lemon pie. That was fun. So definitely, I think a brown sugar pie would go well with any book club talking about Love Comes Home or any of my Rosey Corner books. That pie made appearances in every story.  

Nora: This looks yummy Ann! Yes, I know this would be a hit at a book club meeting! 

    The theme “Sisters” is throughout the Rosey Corner stories. You mentioned “There's also the way my Merritt family in the Rosey Corner stories gather people into their family who aren't related except by heart.” What are some of the ways this happens in the series?

Rosey Corner is the kind of community where everybody knows not only your name and where you live, but where you grew up and who your parents and grandparents were. That type of place can enhance the family feel, but closeness and knowledge doesn't make family. Love does. And my Merritt family is ready to open the circle of family love to include some of the characters in the story who don’t have families of their own. Of course, Lorena was taken into the family in Angel Sister. But we also have Aunt Hattie and Graham who add to the family scene. Even Fern is welcome at the Merritt family table although she’s not so sure she wants to be there. Family is so much more than sharing the same ancestors. It can be sharing the same memories, the same roots, and the same love.

You come from a close knit family and mentioned to me that you've used some family history as a jumping off place for some of your books? How has that worked for you, Ann? What stories did you end up using? What did you have to change about them to make it work for your book?

Several years ago, I went through a time when my work wasn't finding a publishing home and so I decided to write a story about the Sixties, the era when I was growing up. That story, Scent of Lilacs, was my first novel published in the Christian market. (By the way, Scent of Lilacs is a free download right now.) I wrote two more books set in my fictional town of Hollyhill. Then, while I was casting around for a new idea, I decided since I’d had some success using my growing up background, maybe I could use Mom’s childhood background. Mom and her sisters were always talking about when they were kids during the Great Depression. They didn't have any money, but they had a great time with abundant love.
My sisters and Mom a few years ago before her dementia.
For several years I’d been encouraging Mom to talk about her life whenever we had some time alone together. Those visits to doctors’ offices after she got older and could no longer drive herself were perfect opportunities for me to think up questions to get her to tell me more stories while we were waiting. At the time, I just wanted to know about Mom’s younger days and hadn't really considered writing “her” story. That came later when I was scrounging around for that new idea.

So I did go back to the Thirties and use her background for Angel Sister. The story is completely fiction, but Mom’s memories are threaded throughout the story. My character, Kate tries to be the one who takes care of everybody and sees that things get done. In real life, Mom was that kind of person. Her sisters leaned on her strengths and she was always ready to help them. In the Rosey Corner stories, Kate’s father is a blacksmith who served in France in World War I. My grandfather was a blacksmith who was a soldier in France during WW I. My grandparents loved books. Kate’s family loves books in the Rosey Corner stories. One of my aunts loved to go fishing. So I let Tori love fishing. So the background is solidly built on Mom’s memories, but what happens to the characters in the story didn't happen in my mother’s life. That’s the fiction part.

I did base a couple of my eccentric characters, Graham and Fern, on the stories my mother told me about a brother and sister who lived in their little community and whose oddities were legend among the residents. I invented reasons for their oddities, but I kept some of those real life oddities. The real Fern actually did chop down cedar trees and make cedar palaces something like those I have her making in Angel Sister. They really did have a house they didn't live in and Graham really did show my mother his mother’s hats. I gave the two of them a happier ending in my stories than their real life ones. The two of them came to life in that first story and continued on with major roles in Small Town Girl and Love Comes Home. Their characters definitely added to the stories.

Nora: You share fun family memories. I know your mom recently passed. I'm sorry for your loss Ann! Praying for you and your family!

What did I have to change about the stories? 

I had difficulty when I first began writing Angel Sister because I was seeing and thinking about Mom and her sisters too much. I had to push how they really were aside and let my fictional characters take over. I wasn't writing a true story. I just used my Mom’s background to give it a true background. So in ways, I changed everything by letting my characters take on lives of their own that didn't follow the paths that my mother and aunts walked. Even so, in Love Comes Home, there remain echoes of my mother and her sisters. Two of my aunts had husbands who were in World War II. One of my aunts suffered a loss like one of the characters in my story did. Such joys and sorrows happen in all families, and I felt blessed to write the stories and feel that, in some ways, I’d stepped back into my mother’s world before she became a mother.

Nora: Fun!

 Have you had any feedback from family members about using some of the “family” stories in your novels? If so, what have they said? Did they give you any more family stories ideas for future books?
Mom is the one on the left
I really haven’t had much feedback from my family in regard to the stories. My mother, who passed away after suffering from dementia, read Angel Sister in manuscript form after the publishers decided to hold off releasing it until after a couple of my Shaker novels came out. I do think the story meant a lot to her, but I also think dementia was already dimming her ability to read and enjoy books. My aunts had all passed away before Angel Sister, the first Rosey Corner book came out, and thus I didn't get to hear what they thought about the stories. I like to think they would have been pleased. My cousins, if they have read the Rosey Corner books, have never talked to me about any specific parts of the stories. One of my sisters always reads my books and tells me she enjoys them. My other sister rarely comments about my stories although she’s very supportive of my work in other ways. We love talking about books, but my own books are rarely part of the conversation.  

Nora: Great pictures of your mom and her sisters!
My Aunt Evelyn (on the left)
(My Aunt Evelyn, who was actually called Evie by one of her sisters and my Mom flank my grandmother)

So I guess I’d have to say no to the family feedback about the Rosey Corner stories or inspiration for future ideas. I have had many readers tell me this or that person’s life would make a great story. So far, I've only taken one of those challenges when I wrote Angels at the Crossroads, the life testimony story of my friend, Jerry Shepherd. He had such an amazing story I had to give it a try and his story has been a blessing to many readers. But fiction suits me better. Although it’s fun to start with a nugget of truth about something that really happened or actual places the way I did in my Heart of Hollyhill series and in the Rosey Corner books, I like being able to turn those ideas in different directions to come up with my imagined story. That’s what I did with the Rosey Corner stories where Mom’s memories were that beginning inspiration. 


        “After my research into WW II for this book and for Small Town Girl, I have great admiration for the men, some very young, who fought in that war.” What did you discover in your research that prompted this admiration? Discover something you hadn't known before? Something that made you sit back and say “Wow” these were incredible men?

Two of the books I read to help me know what the war was like for the people who lived through it were Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and Studs Terkel’s The Good War. The first person accounts in those books from the men who lined up to fight the war and the women they left behind blew me away. That helped me put faces on those who fought in the war. I was no longer considering a group of anonymous men in an army, but seeing individual soldiers who gave up so much to fight for their country. I also read Ernie’s War, about Ernie Pyle, a journalist who lived with the troops and was eventually killed in the war. His reports made you hear the bombs and breathe the dust as you marched with the soldiers toward battle.

As I said earlier, two of my uncles were World War II veterans, but I never heard them talk about their experiences. One of my husband’s uncles suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even though it wasn't called that then. When I was young, people spoke of war veterans as being shell-shocked. I suppose I never really understand what that meant until I began reading first person accounts of war experiences.
Mom on her honeymoon
The history books can give you the facts, but it’s not until you see those soldiers as people like the guy next door or yourself or your husband or son that you realize what an amazing group they were. Boys still in their teens lined up to volunteer or were drafted into the service. Those kids drove tanks across Africa. They flew bomber planes over Germany and Japan. They stormed beaches in the face of artillery fire. They jumped out of airplanes into enemy territory. They endured terrible conditions in prison camps. Not all were teenagers, but many were very young.

The soldiers, whatever their age, bonded together as bands of brothers to fight against tyranny. Thousands of American soldiers died or saw their comrades and friends die. When the war finally ended, and the survivors got to come home, the great majority of them embraced the opportunities and gifts of life and became respected citizens, pillars of their churches, beloved husbands and caring fathers. I have no argument at all with Tom Brokaw calling them the greatest generation. At the same time, my research has given me increased respect for all veterans or active servicemen and women who have stood or do now stand in the gap for our country.

Nora: Looking forward to reading more of your books Ann!


Thanks for sharing your family with us Ann. I loved the pictures. I’m THRILLED about the Giveaway opportunity that is going on right now at The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org  (5) copies of Love Comes Home. It’s easy to enter the drawing. Go to www.bookfun.org Become a member if you aren't already (It’s FREE and EASY). Scroll down the front page until you get to the cover. Click on the link above the book cover Love Comes Home. IT will take you to the place to enter. ANSWER one of the questions listed to be entered into the contest. It’s easy!

THANKS AGAIN ANN for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. Thanks for the ideas for book clubs that pick your book to read.This is GREAT for BOOK CLUB!! I know your book will be a fun for book club.

SEE you at TBCN!!

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

5 comments:

  1. What a beautiful interview! I've enjoyed several of Ann's books through the years, more recently, the Hollyhill series for the second time, and I just finished Love Comes Home which I loved every bit as much as the Hollyhill series! I have not read the two previous books in the series, Angel Sister or Small Town Girl, but they are now on my wish list! Thanks for sharing Ann's story with us!

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    1. Hi, Nancee. Thanks for stopping by to read my interview. I had fun thinking about the inspiration for my Rosey Corner books. So glad you enjoyed Love Comes Home. Hope you'll get Angel Sister and Small Town Girl too. Angel Sister is a story of my heart because it does have the thread of my mother's childhood throughout.

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    2. Angela, I hope you'll hope over to the Book Club www.bookfun.org and answer one of my easy questions to be in the running for the book. I'll watch for your comment there. :)

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  2. I would love to win. angelachesnut246@gmail.com

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    1. to enter the contest ALL ENTRIES are to be made at TBCN www.bookfun.org You still have time to enter. The Last day is JULY 31st!

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